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The Ugly Budget Part V

Clearing up distortions and confusion.

A message from the APS Budget Steering Committee

The APS Board of Education is meeting this morning to talk more about the 2017-18 operating budget, which it’s scheduled to vote on next week.

As we’ve mentioned time and again, there are many moving parts to this budget. Even if the board approves it, it still may need to be modified depending on what happens during a special session of the state Legislature scheduled to begin on May 24.

Why not wait to approve the budget until after the special session? Simply stated, we’re running out of time. We’re about to wrap up this school year, and as our employees, students and families head off for summer break, we want them to know – as much as possible – what to expect when they return in August. Also, we have an obligation to get the budget to the state Public Education Department in early June – just a few weeks away.

So we continue to proceed cautiously, to budget conservatively. Be assured, if the Legislature and governor approve public education funding that’s more robust than we’re predicting, we’ll prioritize how we restore reductions.

It’s much easier to add than to take away.

In the meantime, we wanted to take another stab at clearing up some distortion and confusion about what we’re proposing and why. The five areas we’re still getting a lot of questions about are:

  • Reduced Contracts
  • Gifted Education
  • Working Cash/Reserve Fund
  • School Computer Techs
  • Staffing Changes

Read on for information on each of these topics. We also will continue to post updates to the district website. Go to and click on the green dollar sign, which will take you to a long list of links along the left side of the page.

Reduced Contract for Year-Round Employees

We are recommending a four-day reduction to contracts for year-round employees, from 260 to 256 days. This would result in a pay cut of roughly 1.5 percent, but it would be spread across 26 paychecks to minimize the impact.

The four days would likely occur during the winter break when schools and administrative offices are closed (so employees no longer would need to use vacation or comp time.) Several employees affected by this proposal are represented by unions, so it is subject to negotiations for those groups.

We are recommending that we NOT reduce the pay of full-time employees who make less than $25,000 a year.

In addition, we are recommending that school-based employees including teachers, educational assistants and principals NOT see a reduction in pay.

Here's how to determine how the reduction could affect you if you currently work a 260-day year:

  1. Divide your annual salary by the number of days in your contract to determine your daily salary.
  2. Multiply your daily salary by the number of contract days reduced to determine your reduction in pay.
  3. Divide your reduction in pay by 26 to determine your gross reduction per paycheck.

For Example:

Current Salary
(Before taxes/benefits)




Daily Salary
(260 days)




Yearly Reduction




Paycheck Reduction (26 pay periods)




Gifted Education

We are reorganizing, not cutting, gifted education. Students will still get gifted services for which they qualify. This reorganization plan includes:

  • Moving resource teachers back into the classroom
  • Having some teachers at smaller schools serve more than one school and others teach a combination of gifted and regular education classes
  • Tightening the pre-screening process
  • Developing a more consistent districtwide model for gifted education
  • Establishing minimum class sizes for high schools.

Reserve Fund/Working Cash

APS does NOT have a $94 million reserve fund (or an $81 million reserve fund, which is another number that has been bounced around). This figure includes money earned by teachers, educational assistants and other school-based employees that is paid to them during the summer.

This misleading figure also isn’t taking into account working cash that we use to cover our bills while waiting for reimbursements from the state, federal government and others. For example, we have to cover the cost of summer school – including salaries for teachers – long before we are reimbursed for it.

The truth is, our reserve fund is less than half of what has been reported. We already into it by about $12 million to cover mid-year reductions, and we expect to take another $5 million from the account to help cover cuts in 2017-18.

Cash reserves on June 30, 2016

$58 million

Mid-Year Reduction

-$12 million

Estimated cash reserves on June 30, 2017

$46 million

Reduction for 2017-18

-$5 million

Estimated cash reserves on June 30, 2018

$41 million

It should be noted that we have more than $41 million in monthly bills, which include payroll and utilities.

School-Based Computer Technicians

In an effort to be more efficient with less money, we are creating technology zones in the four quadrants of the district where skilled computer technicians will assist schools as needed, often remotely. As a result of this reorganization, 32 school technicians were released from their contracts, though they were encouraged to reapply for the newly created technician positions or other similarly-paying jobs.

Staffing Changes

There are at 250 people who were told that they would be reassigned or that their jobs were being eliminated as a result of reorganization, cutbacks or declining enrollment. They include:

  • 11 administrative positions (the result of 10 percent cuts to department budgets)
  • 9 assistant principals
  • 24 resource teachers 81 secondary teachers
  • 70 elementary teachers
  • 42 special education teachers
  • 19 educational assistants.

Most of these individuals have been placed on a priority hire list due to reductions in school budgets, often the result of lower enrollment. We hope to find a place for all of those who wish to continue working with the district, which is doable since this is within our normal rate of attrition. On average, we have between 500-600 employees who retire or resign each year.